29 Sep 2008

Doctors at American Samoa's hospital left to 'guess diagnoses'

6:08 am on 29 September 2008

A report says physicians at American Samoa's LBJ hospital are "left making guesses about patient diagnoses" due to a lack of medical specialists and critical equipment.

The report, released by the U.S. Interior Department's Office of Inspector General, quotes LBJ staff as saying "patients coming to the hospital suffering from head injuries and heart attacks have died because specialists are not on island to treat them."

The report goes on to say that one of the hospital's most serious problems is recruiting and retaining physicians and overworking the ones it does have.

Staff say low salaries and a lack of benefits are the reasons the

hospital isn't able to attract specialists or skilled medical personnel.

The report notes that LBJ has three specialists, two nephrologists and a cardiologist, who visit the hospital for one week each quarter.

It also quotes a senior hospital employee who says there is a great need for a vascular surgeon due to the high number of dialysis patients.

Also noted in the report are claims that the hospital cannot afford to replace equipment when it breaks down.